I live in Ontario, Canada. It gets lots of snowfall, but then milder weather that can make snowy roads very icy. One mild day this winter, it was warm enough to bundle up and ride, the roads were scraped down, and i decided to trailer over to a friend's. I had to climb a steep hill on route, and half way up the hill, the weight of the trailer with horse pulled my truck down the hill, slowly sliding until the trailer was deep into the ditch with my single horse pinned into an open 2 horse trailer. She is 5 years old, and was tied. I had to wait for my son to drive 15 minutes to help pull me up and off the road. All the while, my mare was slanted with her back feet down a steep, steep angle where she was unable to put weight on her front feet, just using them to keep upright. When we moved the trailer slightly, i was able to drop the back and walk her out. She did do some struggling while pinned, but she is overall a practical girl and had no cuts, she just sprained her shoulder from trying to right herself, her legs had very little swelling. I was amazed but now i need to know how best to re-introduce this trailer! it has been 8 weeks or so.
I think the best way to start re-introduce the trailer is to simply start re-introduce the trailer.
In my experience most horses that were in accidents and walked away unscathed, seem to either forget what happened (maybe due to shock?) or simply doesn't associate the trailer, or loading, with the mishap but continue to trailer like nothing has happened.
If there's a problem, it usually resides with the rider who is nervous and make up all sorts of narratives in her/his head, communicating this stress to the horse who in turn gets the impression that you are about to do something highly unpleasant, and then you will have problems - except it isn't really the horse's "fault".
I also think that the less fuss and hysteria that surrounded the event, the less they tend to think of it. If she was fairly calm, like you describe, and if you kept calm and acted as if this was nothing to get worked up about: chances are that she is OK with it and has already put it past her.
My advice would be to put all that happened behind you and act as if she never traveled and is about to learn how to load and float - and will be a champion at it! If you can't - see if you can fin someone else who can hep you until you are confident again.
Stay perfectly calm and carefree - no anticipating of nerves or bad behavior! - breathe slow and deep to center yourself and simply walk on as if this is a piece of cake and see what happens!
With any luck she will do a mental shrug and be a supergirl.
If she hesitates, just shrug yourself and start over with the Dually dance and work incrementally until everything is back in place. Let her eat in the trailer and spend quality time in it if she seems uncertain. Take extra care when unloading in case that will trigger her memory and might cause her to try to throw herself off.
Use a loooong line, a hard hat and GLOVES!
And don't have any one standing next to the trailer in case she throws herself back. (A friend of mine got a dislocated shoulder and torn nerves and muscles when a horse swung his behind into her.)
First drive maybe just in a straight line for 100 meters and next time a little further. Remember to also check how she handles it when you put the car in reverse since you slid backwards.
Or she is absolutely fine form the get go and you can trailer your horse to your friend very soon again! :) :) :)
Krista, you are dealing with her thought processes and how she feels about going back into the dreaded trailer.. I have had much success with keeping the horse`s feet moving from side to side when they decide to stop and not go any further. They will usually leak out forward little by little until they have crossed the threshold of where, in their imagination, the monster resides.
I hope this helps, good luck
Your horse didn't suffer any trauma - you did. You were the one going through all the awful possibilities that could have happened. Your mare probably put the whole experience down to another of those human training days that horses need to take in their stride, because humans have some very strange ideas about what's important to learn about (after all, once you know where your safe places are & where your food is, what's to know)? Get yourself calm, have a plan in place for when she walks straight in ( bucket of goodies ) or for how to incrementally show her she can load into the trailer if she has doubts. My guess is she'll calmly follow you if you can lead her with 100% confidence. Then, gradually build up from a very short trip back to using the trailer normally. Good luck. Cheers, Jo.
Apollo was 34 when Bella came, aged 6 months & very frightened. He took this filly 'under his wing' & taught her so much. He died 4 years later, a huge loss after 24 years together but Bella changed towards me, in a really positive way, like she tried to fill the gap we both had. Bella & I started going for rides on our own but she had a habit of stopping & staring into the distance. She'd just stand there. This would last up to 15 or 20 minutes & then she'd just carry on as though nothing had happened, good as gold. Never in the same place & just as often on the way home as on the way out. I jiggled, I squeezed, I slapped with the reins ( plaited nylon so not very effective ) but nothing had any effect. Bella stopped whenever & wherever she wanted & moved off again, perfectly sweetly, whenever she felt like it. Weeks went by & Bella still insisted we 'take in the scenery' on every ride. Eventually I was getting really frustrated. I bought a jumping whip. We set off, after a while Bella stopped. I tried all the usual stuff, no dice & then I whacked my boot - no reaction. So I drew breath, told myself I would do this only once, ( see deep down I KNEW this was wrong yet I still did it ), raised the whip high above my head & brought it down hard across her backside - fully expecting her to burst into action whether that be forwards or vertically. Absolutely nothing, not an eyelash flickered. I sat there in total disbelief. Now when her breeder had delivered Bella they handed me about 4ft of plastic pipe saying " You'll need this !" It went straight in the bin but judging by the general fear she had then life hadn't been a bed of roses for Bella to that point. This day was the first time I'd hit her & yes, it was the only time. The whip went in the bin when we got home. As I took off her bridle she rubbed her face against me - not the rub of a sweaty, itchy horse but a gentle, lingering rub. Almost the knowing rub of a mare saying " today you've learnt a really important lesson ". There is no more effective argument against violence towards horses than the mare who utterly ignores it. For the next couple of weeks I meekly accepted that our rides would include a 15 to 20 minute pause. Then out of the blue Bella gave up the habit. I don't know why, she just did. So yes, I've made some really horrible mistakes yet I've always been given the benefit of the doubt & granted a second chance. Horses are incredible. They put up with our moods, our modern day stuff, our ineptness even when we are convinced we are RIGHT. We can repay their trust & friendship by learning to LEAD & not to simply BOSS. Cheers, Jo.